Big screen; big margins

TORONTO – An interactive display manufacturer based in Helsinki, Finland was in Toronto today to demonstrate for the first time its MultiTaction solution running Windows 8.

Called MultiTouch Inc., the company has its Americas offices in Los Gatos, Calif., came to Canada to engage with customers, channel partners and media during is Demo Days Toronto event at the Novatel Hotel. David Saltsman, a sales associate for MultiTouch Americas Ltd., told CDN that it was important for the company to showcase the technology in Canada. “These are multi-user touch displays; not single touch units. It does not matter how many hands on are the screen,” Saltsman said.

The MultiTaction screen comes in 42-inch or 55-inch sizes and can be configured as a video wall or a table. Saltsman said that one of the company’s installations was a restaurant in Japan where all the tables are MultiTaction screens that would display the menu, wine list and games. Patrons can even play tic-tack-toe using infrared pens.

“The big focus for our company today is to tell customers that our interactive display screens are stackable. You can configure them in any size, just like a puzzle. And, they do not have to be rectangular either. You can create your own environment,” he said. The biggest MultiTaction wall used 24 55-inch screens.

Recently, MultiTouch launched new MultiTaction products that are fully integrated with Windows 8. Both the MultiTaction Cell 42 and 55 products come embedded with Windows 8 on Intel Core i7 processors. Saltsman said that this was important for MultiTouch because the developer community who build apps for the product prefer Windows as a development platform. The company also supports Linux and the MacOS.The company’s channel strategy is open, said Saltsman. MultiTouch deals with what he called unofficial resellers and system integrators who have expertise in audio-video and IT.

The company’s strategy is to deal with the channel direct and forego distribution unless the solution provider partner demands it. MultiTouch does not have a formalized channel program for North America. It does have one in Europe. Saltsman said that the company has talked about developing a channel program for North America, but there is no time line established for its completion. MultiTouch channel partners are paid discount margins on products. For example, discounts range from 15 per cent on 10 unit solutions to 30 per cent for 100 units.

The entry level price for a 42-inch MultiTaction product is $10,000. The 55-inch model costs $20,000, while the thin bezel version is $27,000.

“We enjoy the current open system because it allows us to work closer with the end user customer. But integrators have become a valuable resource for us,” Saltsman added.The primary markets for MultiTaction are hospitality, corporate boardrooms, universities along with museums and public spaces such as the Houston Space Center.

The MultiTaction recognizes different types of inputs such as an infrared pen, optical marker or a person’s finger. This technology can also be used in a digital signage solution for retail. Saltsman described one retail application that would enable a store to offer a complimentary product at the cash register. “The customer buys a hat and goes to pay for it, the MultiTaction system can show a matching scarf with a 20 per cent off discount right at check out.”

The actual screen is tempered glass made by MultiTouch’s alliance partners Samsung or LG.

According to Saltsman, the glass can be cleaned using Windex or replaced altogether.

MultiTouch is a hardware company, Saltsman said. The company’s Computer Vision Through Screen (CVTS) technology backlights the display through 32 IR cameras. CVTS enables users to move about the display with optical markers or a hand. The cameras pick up the reflection.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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